Tag Archive: WWII


Becoming Churchill

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One of the things that I always find amazing about the movies is the ability of the make-up and special effects crews to create the spectacular from tiny bits of powder and cream and prosthesis skin coverings.

darkest hour oldman churchillI haven’t seen Darkest Hour yet. But it is simply incredible how Gary Oldman goes from looking like himself to Winston Churchill in all of the trailers that I have watched. We follow Churchill as he is elected Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlin. We watch as he tries to keep the country motivated to fight against Hitler’s army that seems unbeatable.

Movie watchers know Oldman from the Harry Potter series as Sirius Black and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series as Commissioner Gordon. He is a younger man who is thin and three inches taller than Churchill who was 5’6”.

The make-up used on Oldman made him look older as Churchill was 66 years old during the time period depicted in this movie. Oldman turned 59 during the shooting of the picture.

Maybe it’s me but I sometimes think we have begun to age differently. I know people in their 60s who look younger than I remember my grandparents looking at the same age. I am often told I look ten years younger than I am (for which I am grateful. I don’t care if people are just being nice to me.) When I see Gary Oldman at 59, I think I am seeing a man in his 40s.

Darkest Hour oldmanBut as Churchill. Oldman is jowly. He is heavier and moves differently. Oldman stated he intensely studied Churchill for a year in order to have his moves and quirks, speak patterns and accent. In the end, though, Oldman stated he had to do more than impersonate. He had to interpret the man who brought England through the roughest part of WWII when it looked like the war was about to be lost.

Now that was the challenge. In every clip I have seen, Oldman is Churchill, he embodies all that we have ever known about him. He sounded like Churchill, especially during the “Beaches” speech. I know it is Oldman’s job to be incredible, to capture his subject’s spirit. Not everyone succeeds at the job. But even actors who have portrayed Churchill in the past, including Robert Hardy, have stated that Oldman’s performance is the best so far.

Others must agree for Oldman has won a Golden Globe award for this performance along with nominations for Best Actor from the Screen Actors’ Guild, BAFTA, (British Academy Awards), and the Academy Awards aka the Oscars TM.

churchill-darkest-hourOldman’s performance may be trans-formative but he is supported by other actors, including Kristen Scott Thomas and Ben Mendolsohn, that brings the era to life. Director Joe Wright has been incredible in his past efforts which include Atonement.

Darkest Hour is a movie I am looking forward to seeing, not just because I am a history buff, but because I enjoy high art that is also accessible to anyone and everyone..

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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I Remember Every Detail

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

“You played it for her, you can play it for me.”

 

That line and many others come from Casablanca which opened in theaters seventy years ago this week. The movie was released just a few weeks after the war opened on the African front, which explains the map sequence at the beginning of the 1942 film.

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

If you have never seen the movie, the story is this: A man runs a tavern and secret casino in Casablanca. Every day more refugees from Europe come to the French colonial city in Morocco hoping to get the necessary papers to leave the county, a stop away from America.

 

One night a famous resistance leader comes to the club looking for such papers for himself and his wife. But what the husband does not know is that his wife and the club owner have a past that occurred during the time everyone thought the leader was dead. The owner has papers everyone wants but the question is what will he do with them as the Germans are breathing down his neck.

 

It is a movie you can watch with your teens but be aware that there are no car chases or crash sequences. There are innuendos about sexual favors and two murders occur on-screen. Dialogue runs this movie and the great lines seem never-ending.

 

“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

 

I always wonder if a creative person knows they are writing or working on perfection as they do it. The Epstein twins may not have thought they were doing that at the time. This was just another movie they were writing when the studios put out hundreds of movies a year.

 

There are great legends connected to this movie such as Ronald Reagan originally being cast as Rick. Personally, I do not think he had the right amount of dark disappointment to play the casino owner. Bogart, with his string of gangster roles, displayed a man who hid his heart with a layer of toughness.

 

Admit it, you guys. Once you have seen Bogart perform in just about any movie, you want to be as cool as all that. This role defines that elusive male who is tough but able to be so crazy in love that years later he is still angry at the woman who got away. And instead of taking that anger out on the world, every now and again he performs an act of kindness that allows young love to continue on to the new world.

 

This was Bogart’s first truly romantic role. He was given a partner who gave him everything back that he dished out. I am not sure if I ever saw Ingrid Bergman more beautiful, more glowing than in this movie. She is a woman who appears divided between two men of similar standards. She is willing to go to extremes to protect the man she loves but we are left guessing who that man is for the majority of the movie.

 

“Round up the usual suspects.”

 

Perhaps the best judge of any movie is whether or not you would watch it again. Some movies make me feel embarrassed that I ever liked them. When I watch Casablanca I want to be there in the hot and dry African city – going to the club every night, attending Resistance meetings, and looking as stylish as Elsa did in every scene.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.